The truck carrying Sergio Mattarella’s furniture to his new home in the Roman district of Parioli received a call on Saturday mid-morning and had to turn around. The Italian parties, unable to reach an agreement after six days of voting and enormous discussions, had to implore the current head of state to renew his mandate (seven years) and to remain in office. It will be, at least, until there are elections and a less fragmented Parliament is formed. The repetition of Mattarella is a victory for Italy at a very delicate time when stability and figures such as Mario Draghi, who will be able to complete his work at the head of the executive, will be protected. But it is also a terrible defeat for the parties and for Italian politics, unable to find relief and reach new agreements. Mattarella obtained the necessary 759 votes, ie the absolute majority of the 1,009 electors – 630 deputies, 321 senators and 58 regional delegates.
Mattarella (80), who accepted the proposal, will be the second President of the Republic to renew himself. And he will do so consecutively to his predecessor, Giorgio Napolitano, who found himself in a similar situation nine years ago. The difference, however, is that this time there was some parliamentary promotion of his candidacy. The Head of State has repeated a thousand times that he did not want to reissue his mandate: he did not want to and it seemed to him that he was forcing the Constitution too much. But a landslide built up from a few shoals in recent hours has brought its flight candidacy. “It was the only possible solution to unite the majority. If the leaders had to seek unanimity, the only solution was to favor a movement from below to elect Mattarella,” explains Stefano Ceccanti, deputy of the Democratic Party (PD) and one of the designers of the plan.
Ennio Flaiano, legendary writer and screenwriter of Federico Fellini, said that “the shortest line in Italy between two points is the arabesque”. But the decision, taken in the eighth vote on the sixth day, is also a clear symptom of the comatose state in which its political class finds itself. There is no relay up to the task, ruling class. The historic ability to conclude transalpine agreements is also running out of steam. The paradox, on the other hand, indicates that this decision will allow almost any game to come out with flying colors and maintain the unusual stability the country enjoyed last year, just when markets were starting to get jittery. Mario Draghi, the other favorite option, will be able to continue until the end of the legislature in the executive to complete the reforms in which he is committed in the country, on which the arrival of the more than 200,000 million euros that the European Union has allocated to Italy for the post-pandemic period. The PD has always bet on Mattarella and a large part of the right as well. One man, however, leaves the game very touched.
Matteo Salvini, head of the League, is deeply hurt in a process that he entered self-erected in a kind of kingmaker and from which he emerged mowed and as a rare political leader, without leadership or political vision for the great processes. All the names he proposed were rejected and, in addition, he seriously damaged the public image of two heavyweights of the institutions, the President of the Senate, Elisabetta Casellati, and the head of the secret services, Elisabetta Belloni. He offered both profiles without sufficient support and under the lonely premise that they were “women”. He has done a disservice to gender equality in institutions with his flimsy argumentation and exposed, without realizing it, the division that exists within the right-wing coalition (Forza Italia, Liga and Hermanos de Italia ), which is left in tatters from this contest.
Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy, no longer hides her distance from the decisions taken by Salvini. Mattarella, who meant the continuity and distance from the early elections that the heiress of the post-fascist party of the Italian Social Movement was looking for in this movement, was the only option she did not want. Nor is the League leader’s contempt for political worth on big occasions hidden within their ranks. “It’s not up to the task. As soon as he thinks he can be decisive, as happened in August 2019 in Papeete, he fucks up the mess, “said a historic member of the Brothers of Italy bluntly. division is complete.
Mario Draghi, the other big name in this long competition, manages to keep his institution superman CV almost unscratched. But after a year in which his rule has remained unscathed from the usual taints of the Italian parliament, he has checked that politics is splashing. And also that he will have to forge alliances, strategies and come down from time to time from the ivory tower given to him in his country when he imposed himself as the savior of the euro. Whatever it takes, as he would say. At least if he wants to continue to choose to be the head of state in two years, when the 2023 elections will clarify the scenario.
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Mattarella stands out as one of the best presidents in the history of the Republic. His second term is not a palace game, but a popular and parliamentary will unusual in Italian skirmishes. Only Giovanni Gronchi in 1955 emerged from a similar wave of parliamentary support. He was a dissident candidate who was elected by some Christian Democrats against the official party line. And little by little, they all came together. “It came imposed from below. And the important thing is that Parliament has now found the way”, insists Ceccanti.
The situation has since changed enormously and reveals an endemic problem. In the so-called First Republic, when the parties were strong, it was the presidents who wanted to run again, but the formations prevented them from giving them too much power. Today, just the opposite is happening: presidents like Mattarella just want to go home to Palermo to rest, but the parties are unable to replace them and have to stop the moving truck.
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